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9 Songs (2004)
2 lovers, one summer, and the 9 songs that defined them.
Director: Michael Winterbottom

Matt, a young glaciologist, soars across the vast, silent, icebound immensities of the South Pole as he recalls his love affair with Lisa. They meet at a mobbed rock concert in a vast music hall - London's Brixton Academy. They are in bed at night's end. Together, over a period of several months, they pursue a mutual sexual passion whose inevitable stages unfold in counterpoint to nine live-concert songs.

9 Songs (2004)

Rock and Roll

When I saw Scorsese’s “Last Waltz”, I thought that I would never again see a concert film as true. And I haven’t, until now.

The Band were the last popular musicians to tell stories, have nearly all those stories be in the third person and tell them without irony. To do this is impossible today, or at least non-commercial. Scorsese is a flawed filmmaker, his flaw being that he is overly invested in character-driven storytelling. The two: Band and Marty, were a perfect mix: cinematic rock. Pure, without that nightmare stew of MTV videos.

Now along comes Winterbottom. Nearly all viewers will be unable to accept a movie with sex in it as anything but a movie about sex. Shame on them. Confront it folks. That’s his point: why is it so difficult to accept the difference?

But the hangups of the viewing public are less interesting to me than the way he constructed this experiment. It is a rock concert (with a Nyman interlude). Nine songs, with us participating in the songs themselves, participating in the going to the concerts to listen to the songs, and participating in the experience that the songs are about: namely obsessive sex. And also, remembering (or even inventing the memory of) the sex, drugs and rock and roll we’ve seen. This latter is done by our hero in Antarctica. He serves as narrater, by the way.

Thankfully, this intense sex avoids the theatrics of “Damage”, and works to be as genuine as possible emotionally.

Is it a good movie? Could it change your life? Will it change cinema forever?

Probably yes.

Posted in 2005

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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